Tonawanda News

February 11, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Pets and vets

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I will admit that at times I get skeptical about taking my pets to see a veterinarian as often as the vet office would like to see them. Much like going to a human doctor, I get displeased with the co-pay, bill, stress, proximity of sick patients and the wait time for the mundane results of: “Looks good to me.”

Some caregivers might wonder why their pet would need a vet if they are monitoring their health on a daily basis. I could write an essay on why veterinarians are important and some caregivers would still bypass their pet’s doctor visit. Instead I will discuss when vet visits are essential, for the frugal pet owner.

An important aspect of pet health is preventative care. Vaccinations should not be overlooked due to health concerns and local laws. The rabies vaccination is vital because the virus can be deadly to both pets and humans. Some states require yearly vaccinations and other areas strongly urge the vaccine. The New York State Department of Health requires the rabies vaccination for all dogs, cats and ferrets.

Most vets use a vaccination that is good for three years.

Other common immunizations include a distemper combination vaccination that also includes adenovirus, parvovirus and often parainfluenza. These viruses cause respiratory infection, neurologic disease, liver disease, vomiting, diarrhea and death. Both are available in one-year and three-year vaccines. Many pet boarding services require distemper inoculation and kennel cough.

Veterinarians, like any good doctor, can read the vitals. Blood work can reveal minute changes in your pet’s chemistry, alerting you of dangers that can be fixed before they become something problematic. A complete blood count, kidney, liver and glucouse levels can be recorded to have a baseline in the event that your pet does get sick. Another vital vets can listen to are the lungs for respiratory problems and the heart for palpitations.

Anyone can have a forum on the web these days. I have one — www.facebook.com/crittercompanions — and, sadly, anyone can put any info they want up on the Internet, be it truthful or not. Your vet, with their clientele, education and vocational experience, say with certainty the best behavioral, nutritional and husbandry standards you can abide by. Kramer, from Seinfeld said it best “I would rather trust a veterinarian, then a doctor. A vet has to know how to treat a pig, a horse and a dog all at the same time.”

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My cockatoo Buddy and myself recently tested some of Lafeber’s parrot treats. The classic avi-cakes for macaws and cockatoo’s were definitely the preferred food item. They can be purchased in 1-pound sheets and then broken into meal-size squares. They contain 50 percent pellets and 50 percent seeds. 

As the packaging says “Pulling, stretching, crunching and twisting are required to eat each cake.” I did enjoy how pliable they are, which allows them to fit into all of Buddy’s favorite toys, providing an excellent source of foraging enrichment.

Another of Lafeber’s products we tested was the Nutri-Nuts Parrot Treat. These small treats are filled with peanut pieces, seeds and other delectables with a “shell” that is made from a peanut butter base. These should not be fed in excess of 10 to 15 percent of your bird’s total diet. 

Each package includes naturally colored “nutri-nuts” ranging from yellow, orange and red. My bird did not enjoy the orange ones, for whatever reason – the ingredients are the same for each recipe. This was a disappoint for me, as my favorite color is orange.

The last product we examined was the nutri-berries. These are a similar product to the aforementioned nutri-nuts without the hard shell. The seeds are pre-hulled and whole. This gives your parrot the benefit of the whole food item without the shelling by-product. These were readily eaten.

These are also small enough to scatter throughout the cage to decrease the chance of your parrot being a perch potato.

Kenny Coogan has a B.S. in animal behavior. Please email your questions to birdbehaviorconsultant@yahoo.com, or search for "Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan" on Facebook.